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Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland


Part I

A Sketch of the Moral and Physical Character, and of the Institutions and Customs of the Inhabitants of the Highlands of Scotland

Sketches of the Highlanders

Section IX.

Attachment to the Exiled Family—Political differences between the Loxlanders and the Highlanders—Disinterested but mistaken feeling of Loyalty—Military conduct.

Under the House of Stuart, [See Appendix, R.] the Highlanders enjoyed a degree of freedom suited to the ideas of a high-spirited people, proud of having, for a series of ages, maintained their independence. The occasional interference of the royal authority, and the policy frequently pursued, of employing one chief to punish another, and of rewarding the successful rival with a share of the lands forfeited by the vanquished, had a greater tendency to perpetuate than to allay the endless feuds between different clans and districts. It had another effect; it turned the exasperation of the subdued clan against those who attacked them, and directing it from the person of a distant sovereign, whose power was sometimes so weak that he had no other means of establishing his authority than that of setting the clans in opposition to each other. In this state of hostility, their rage and irritation being expended against their neighbours and rivals, the part the Sovereign had taken attracted little notice; and thus loyalty and attachment to his person continued unshaken. Of this we have striking instances in the case of the Macdonalds of Cantyre and Islay, and the Macleans of Douart, whose lands were forfeited and granted to the Earl of Argyll in consequence of some acts of violence committed in the course of their mutual feuds; and yet no people in the Highlands retained a stronger or more lasting attachment and loyalty than these two clans. The case was the same with the Macleods of the Lewis, whose lands were granted to the Mackenzies; and it is not a little remarkable that the Macdonalds, Macleans, and Macleods, with all their reverses and forfeitures, preserved a kind of enthusiastic loyalty to their ancient sovereigns and their descendants,—an attachment which was early forgotten by those who were more favoured, and were enriched by the grants of their estates. The actual interference of the sovereign or any distant authority being little felt by the Highlanders, it contributed to give them an idea of independence, and fostered a kindly feeling towards the King, whose severity was not immediately felt, as few mandates came directly from him. Thus a species of freedom and independence continued with little interruption, and always accompanied with loyalty and a high spirit, till after the reign of Charles I. and during the Commonwealth, when Oliver Cromwell planted garrisons in the heart of their country to punish them for their loyalty during the civil wars. It was then that they began to find their independence lowered, and their freedom restrained. This restraint, however, continued only during the period of the Usurpation ; for soon after the Restoration, the garrisons were withdrawn by Charles II. in consideration of the eminent services rendered to his father and himself in their adversity. The subsequent measures adopted by King William helped greatly to awaken and confirm the attachment of the Highlanders to their ancient kings, while it increased their aversion to the new monarch.

To these causes may in part be ascribed the eagerness with which the Highlanders strove for the restoration of their ancient line of sovereigns. Another source of this attachment may be traced to the feudal system itself. When we take into account the implicit devotion of the clans to the interests and the honour of their chiefs, we may cease to wonder at their respect for a family, between which and many of their chiefs a connection by birth, marriage, and hereditary descent, was known to subsist. This connection was nearly similar to that between the chief and many members of his clan, The doctrine of hereditary succession, and indefeasible right, never, in its abstract sense, formed any part of their system. Acute and intelligent in regard to all objects within their view, they had but vague and indefinite ideas of the limits of royal power and prerogative. Their loyalty, like their religion, was a strong habitual attachment ; the object of which was beyond the reach of their observation, but not beyond that of their affections. The Stuarts were the only kings their fathers had obeyed and served. Of the errors of their government in regard to the English, and Saxons of the Lowlands, they were either ignorant or unqualified to judge. Poetry was here a powerful auxiliary to prejudice. Burns has said, that "the Muses are all Jacobites." "There are few Scotchmen, even of the present day," says Laing in his History of Scotland, "whose hearts are not warmed by the songs which celebrate their independence, under their ancient race of kings." The sympathy which we naturally cherish, when the mighty are laid low,—the generous indignation excited by the abuse of power, or by insulted feeling,—and the tender anguish with which the victims of mistaken principle looked back from a foreign shore, where they wandered in hopeless exile, to the land of their forefathers;—these and similar themes were more susceptible of poetical embellishment than the support of a new and ill-understood authority; a subject not of feeling, but of that cool and abstract reasoning which was the more unpoetical for being sound and conclusive. Accordingly, we find, that the whole power of national song, during that period, inclined towards the ancient dynasty; and the whole force of the ludicrous, the popular, and the pathetic, volunteered in the Jacobite service. It is beyond question, that the merit of these Jacobite songs eclipsed, and still eclipses, every attempt at poetry on the other side, which has produced little beyond a few scraps of verses, in ridicule of the bare knees, the kilts, and bad English of the Highlanders. [Now, as the House of Hanover has not more loyal or devoted subjects than the descendants of the honourable old Jacobites, it may be permitted to notice a few of those popular songs which so powerfully affected many of the last generation, and which continue to afford occasional amusement and pastime to the present:—"Hey Johnnie Cope, are ye wauken yet?" "Hame, hame, it's hame I would be, For I'm wearied of my life in this foreign countrie;" " A health to them that I lo'e dear;" "Kenmure's on and awa;" "The King shall enjoy his ain;"—all of which spoke to the heart in the strong and simple language best suited to awaken its most powerful emotions. When it is considered how many feel, and how few reason, the power of popular poetry will be easily understood. Of this the government in 1746 seemed to be fully sensible ; for great numbers of the popular ballads and songs were bought up and publicly burnt.]

The last great cause which I shall mention of the attachment of the Highlanders to the House of Stuart, was the difference of religious feelings and prejudices that distinguished them from their brethren of the South. This difference became striking at the Reformation, and continued during the whole of the subsequent century. While many Lowlanders were engaged in angry theological controversies, or adopted a more sour and forbidding demeanour, the Highlanders retained much of their ancient superstition?, and, from their cheerful and poetical spirit, were averse to long faces and wordy disputes. They were, therefore, more inclined to join the Cavaliers than the Roundheads, and were, on one occasion, employed by the ministry of Charles II. to keep down the republican spirits in the West of Scotland. The same cause, among others, had previously induced them to join the standard of Montrose.

It has been said by a celebrated author, [Dalrymple's Memoirs.] that the Highlands of Scotland is the only country in Europe that has never been distracted by religious controversy, or suffered from religious persecution. [Although they never suffered from religious persecutions, they sometimes resisted a change in the mode of worship. The last Episcopal clergyman of the parish of Glenorchy, Mr David Lindsay, was ordered to surrender his charge to a Presbyterian minister then appointed by the Duke of Argyll. When the new clergyman reached the parish to take possession of his living, not an individual would speak to him, and every door was shut against him, except Mr Lindsay's, who received him kindly. On Sunday the new clergyman went to church, accompanied by his predecessor. The whole population of the district were assembled, but they would not enter the church. No person spoke to the new minister, nor was there the least noise or violence, till he attempted to enter the church, when he was surrounded by twelve men fully armed, who told him he must accompany them; and, disregarding all Mr Lindsay's prayers and entreaties, they ordered the piper to play the march of death, and marched away with the minister to the confines of the parish. Here they made him swear on the Bible that he would never return, or attempt to disturb Mr Lindsay. He kept his oath. The synod of Argyle were highly incensed at this violation of their authority; but seeing that the people were determined to resist, no farther attempt was made, and Mr Lindsay lived thirty years afterwards, and died Episcopal minister of Glenorchy, loved and revered by his flock.]

This is easily accounted for. The religion of the Highlanders was founded on the simplest principles of Christianity, and cherished by strong feeling. On this, also, was grounded a moral education, without letters, (so far as regarded the lower orders I mean; the middle [See Appendix, S.] and higher classes having, for many generations, been well educated,) and transmitted to them from their forefathers, with which was mixed a degree of honourable feeling [One instance of the force of principle, founded on a sense of honour, and its consequent influence, was exhibited in the year 1745, when the rebel army lay at Kirkliston, near the seat of the Earl of Stair, whose grandfather, when Secretary of State for Scotland in 1C92, had transmitted to Campbell of Glenlyon, the orders of King William for the massacre of Glenco. Macdonald of Glenco, the immediate descendant of the unfortunate gentleman, who, with all his family, (except a child carried away by his nurse in the dark), fell a sacrifice to this horrid massacre, had joined the rebels with all his followers, and was then in West Lothian. Prince Charles, anxious to save the house and property of Lord Stair, and to remove from his followers all excitement to revenge, but at the same time not comprehending their true character, proposed that the Glenco men should he marched to a distance from Lord Stair's house and parks, lest the remembrance of the share which his grandfather had had in the order for extirpating the whole clan should now excite a spirit of revenge. When the proposal was communicated to the Glenco men, they declared, that, if that was the case, they must return home. If they were considered so dishonourable as to take revenge on an innocent man, they were not fit to remain with honourable men, nor to support an honourable cause; and it was not without much explanation, and great persuasion, that they were prevented from marching away the following morning. When education is founded on such principles, the happiest effects are to be expected.] which never forsook them in public life, whether engaged in open rebellion, as in 1745, or as loyal subjects fighting the battles of their country, in after periods.

"The two principal distinctions in the religion of the Highlanders are the Presbyterian and the Roman Catholic. The latter, with few exceptions, is confined to the county of Inverness, particularly to the districts of Lochaber, Moidart, Arasaik, Morrer, Knoidart, and Strath Glass, and to the islands of Cannay, Eig, South Uist, and Barra, where the adherents to the religion of their ancestors are equal, if not superior in number, to the disciples of the Reformation. There are likewise a few Episcopalians, chiefly among the gentry.

"The religion of a Highlander is peaceable and unobtrusive. He never arms himself with quotations from Scripture to carry on offensive operations. There is no inducement for him to strut about in the garb of piety, in order to attract respect, as his own conduct insures it. Not being perplexed by doubt, he wants no one to corroborate his faith. Upon such a subject, therefore, he is silent, unless invited to conversation, and then he entertains it with solemnity and reverence. The relationship between him and his Creator is more in his heart than on his tongue. I believe his religious feelings to be as sincere as they are simple and unassuming, and that moral precepts are more congenial to his disposition than mysteries.

"Another circumstance, still more astonishing, is, that Protestants and Papists, so often pronounced to be eternally inimical, live here in charity and brotherhood. On neither side is humanity forgotten in their doctrine of divinity. In Fort William there is the Scotch church, and the Episcopal and the Roman Catholic chapels. The inhabitants of the town, and of the neighbourhood, know no division, except at the doors of their respective places of worship. [Pennant, speaking of the island of Cannay, says, "The minister and the Popish priest reside in Eig; but, by reason of the turbulent seas that divide these isles, are very seldom able to attend their flocks. I admire the moderation of their congregations, who attend the preaching of either indifferently as they happen to arrive,"]

On a Sunday morning they may be seen in the street, and approaching by the several roads, conversing together ' in unity of spirit and in the bond of peace,' till the time arrives for their separation, when each man bends his course according to the dictates of his own conscience, without note or comment from the others; and when the assemblies are dismissed, they meet again as cordially as they parted. The advocate for intolerance will say, such a people must either be lukewarm and indifferent, or the thing is impossible. Not at all. They are truly earnest in their devotion. The same spirit of charity is diffused throughout families. A master does not require his servants to think as he thinks; he merely requires them to do as they are bid. A husband is not offended because his wife loves consubstantiation better than transubstantiation, provided she loves him. As for their children, they easily come to an agreement about them, if they agree in every thing else. I visited a family, where the master of the house and his sons are Roman Catholics, his wife and daughter Episcopalians, and the tutor a Presbyterian. What a mixture! And does it not lead to confusion and wrangling? By no means; quite the contrary. It is a daily lesson of good-will and kind-hearted forbearance, and every one in the house is benefited by it." This was the state of religion, liberality, and Christian charity among different sects twenty years ago. In more ancient tiroes, the minds and principles of the Highlanders were influenced and guided by their institutions; by their notions, that honour, or disgrace, communicated to a whole family or district; by their chivalry, their poetry, and traditionary tales: in latter periods the labours of the parish ministers have, by their religious and moral instructions, reared an admirable structure on this foundation. No religions order, in modern times, have been more useful and exemplary, by their instructions and practice, than the Scotch parochial clergy. Adding example to precept, they have taught the pure doctrines of Christianity in a manner clear, simple, and easily comprehended by their flock.

Thus, the religious tenets of the Highlanders, guided by their clergy, were blended with an impressive, captivating, and, if I may be allowed to call it so, a salutary superstition, inculcating on the minds of all, that an honourable and well spent life entailed a blessing on descendants, while a curse would descend on the successors of the wicked, the oppressor, and ungodly.

[The belief that the punishment of the cruelty, oppression, or misconduct of an individual descended as a curse on his children, to the third and fourth generation, was not confined to the common people. All ranks were influenced by it; and many believed, that if the curse did not fall upon the first or second generation, it would inevitably descend upon the succeeding. The late Colonel Campbell of Glenlyon retained this belief through a course of thirty years' intercourse with the world, as an officer of the 42d regiment, and of Marines. He was grandson of the Laird of Glenlyon, who commanded the military at the massacre of Glenco, and who lived in the laird of Glenco's house, where he and his men were hospitably entertained during a fortnight prior to the execution of his orders. Colonel Campbell was an additional captain in the 42d regiment in 1748, and was put on half pay. He then entered the Marines, and in 1762 was Major, with the brevet rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and commanded 800 of his corps at the Havannah. In 1771, he was ordered to superintend the execution of the sentence of a court-marshal on a soldier of marines, condemned to be shot. A reprieve was sent; but the whole ceremony of the execution was ordered to proceed until the criminal should be upon his knees, with a cap over his eyes, prepared to receive the volley. It was then that he was to be informed of his pardon. No person was to be told previously, and Colonel Campbell was directed not to inform even the firing party, who were warned that the signal to fire would be the waving of a white handkerchief by the commanding officer. When all was prepared, the clergyman having left the prisoner on his knees, in momentary expectation of his fate, and the firing party looking with intense attention for the signal, Colonel Campbell put his hand into his pocket for the reprieve; but in pulling out the packet, the white handkerchief accompanied it, and catching the eyes of the party, they fired, and the unfortunate prisoner was shot dead.

The paper dropped through Colonel Campbell's fingers, and, clapping his hand to his forehead, he exclaimed, " The curse of God and of Glenco is here; 1 am an unfortunate ruined man." He desired the soldiers to be sent to the barracks, instantly quitted the parade, and soon afterwards retired from the service. This retirement was not the result of any reflection, or reprimand on account of this unfortunate affair, as it was known to be entirely accidental, but the impression on his mind, was never effaced. Nor is the massacre, and the judgment which the people believe has fallen on the descendants of the principal actors in this tragedy, effaced from their recollection. They carefully note, that, while the family of the unfortunate gentleman who suffered is still entire, and his estate preserved in direct male succession to his posterity ; the case is very different with the family, posterity, and estates of the laird of Glenlyon, and of those who were the principals, promoters, and actors in this infamous affair.]

These, with a belief in ghosts, dreams, and second-sighted visions, [See Appendix, T.] served to tame the turbulent and soothe the afflicted, and differed widely from the gloomy inflexible puritanism of many parts of the south. The demure solemnity and fanaticism of the plains, offered a ceaseless subject of ridicule and satire to the poetical imaginations of the mountainers. The truth is, that no two classes of people of the same country, and in such close neighbourhood, could possibly present a greater contrast than "the wild and brilliant picture of the devoted valour, incorruptible fidelity, patriarchal brotherhood, and savage habits of the Celtic clans on the one hand; and the dark, untractable, domineering bigotry of the Covenanters, on the other." [Edinburgh Review.]

Differing so widely in their manners, they heartily despised and hated each other. "The Lowlander considered the Highlander as a fierce and savage depredator, speaking a barbarous language, inhabiting a gloomy and barren region, which fear and prudence forbade all strangers to explore. The attractions of his social habits, strong attachment, and courteous manners, were confined to his glens and kindred. All the pathetic and sublime records were concealed in a language difficult to acquire, and utterly despised as the jargon of barbarians by their southern neighbours. If such was the light in which the cultivators of the soil regarded the hunters, graziers, and warriors of the mountains, their contempt was amply repaid by their high-spirited neighbours. The Highlanders, again, regarded the Lowlanders as a very inferior mongrel race of intruders, sons of little men, without heroism, without ancestry, or genius; mechanical drudges, &c. &c, who could neither sleep upon the snow, compose extempore songs, recite long tales of wonder or of woe, or live without bread and without shelter for weeks together, following the chase. Whatever was mean or effeminate, whatever was dull, slow, mechanical, or torpid, was in the Highlands imputed to the Lowlanders, and exemplified by allusions to them ; while, in the Low country, every thing ferocious or unprincipled, every species of awkwardness or ignorance, of pride, or of insolence, was imputed to the Highlanders." [Mrs Grant's Superstitions of the Highlanders.] These mutual animosities and jealousies, long sustained, operated as a check to a more free communication, and cherished the affections of the Highlanders to the exiled family. Their frequent contentions with the peasantry of the plains adjacent to the mountains, and the comparison of their own constancy and loyalty with what they regarded as the timeserving disposition of the Lowlanders, exalted them in their own estimation, and contributed, by a feeling of personal pride, to confirm them in their political predilections.

This attachment, too, will appear the less surprising if we bear in mind, that the Highlanders, far distant from the seat of government, and not immediately affected by the causes which produced the Revolution in England, were imperfectly acquainted with the circumstances which led to that event. Hence we may discover an apology for their subsequent conduct, as proceeding more from a mistaken loyalty, than from a turbulent restless spirit. Since this adherence to the House of Stuart produced most important consequences, as affecting the Highlanders, and led to measures on the part of government, which have conduced so materially to change the character and habits of the people; we may shortly examine the causes and motives in which it originated, and the manner in which it displayed itself.

With few exceptions, the Highlanders were of high monarchical notions. Opposed to these was the family of Argyll, which took the lead in the interest of the Covenanters and Puritans, and which, during two-thirds of the seventeenth century, was at feud with the families of Atholl, Huntly, Montrose, and Airley. This opposition of religious feeling and political principles, the warlike habits of the Highlanders, and the natural conformation of the country, suddenly rising from the plains into mountains difficult of access, and of exterior communication, combined to keep up that difference of character already noticed, which, though so distinctly marked, was divided by so slight a line, as the small stream or burn of Inch Ewan below the bridge of Dunkeld, the inhabitants on each side of which present perfect characteristics of the Saxons and Celts. [The author of Waverley has, with great spirit and humour, given an admirable delineation of this difference of character, in the account of Waverley's journey from Glenquaich, and his rencounter with Gilfillan, the evangelical landlord of the Seven-branched Golden Candlesticks at Crieff.] One of the most remarkable of the latter was the celebrated Neil Gow, whose genius has added fresh spirit to the cheerful and exhilarating music of Caledonia, and who, although he was born, and, during the period of a long life, lived within half a mile of the Lowland border, exhibited a perfect specimen of the genuine Highlander in person, garb, principles, and character.

While both sides of this line differed so widely, the language of the northern division, together with their chivalry, their garb, their arms, and their Jacobite principles, kept them too well prepared, and made them too ready to join in the troubles that ensued. The disarming acts of 1716 and 1725, with various irritating causes, contributed to keep alive these feelings, and to encourage the hopes of the exiled family. These hopes led to the Rebellion of 1745, when Charles Edward landed in the West Highlands without men or money, trusting to that attachment which many were supposed to cherish to his family; and committing to their charge bis honour, his life, and his hopes of a crown, he threw himself among them, and called upon them to support his claims. This confidence touched the true string, and made a powerful appeal to that fidelity which had descended to them, as it were, in trust from their forefathers.

[It was not without reason, he relied on this loyal attachment to his person and family. The numerous anecdotes in proof of this attachment, are so remarkable, as to appear almost incredible to those unacquainted with the manners and feelings of the Highlanders.

When the late Mr Stewart of Balichulish returned home, after having completed a course of general and classical education at Glasgow and Edinburgh, he was a promising young man. A friend of the family happening to visit his father, who had "been out" in 1715 and 1745, congratulated the old gentleman on the appearance and accomplishments of his son. To this he answered, that the youth was all he could wish for as a son; and "next to the happiness of seeing Charles restored to the throne of his forefathers, is the promise my son affords of being an honour to his family."

A song or ballad of that period, set to a melancholy and beautiful air, was exceedingly popular among the Highlanders, and sung by all classes. It is in Gaelic, and cannot be translated without injury to the spirit and effect of the composition. One verse, alluding to the conduct of the troops after the suppression of the rebellion, proceeds thus: "They ravaged and burnt my country ; they murdered my father, and carried off my brothers; they ruined my kindred, and broke the heart of my mother;—but all, all could I bear without murmur, if I saw my king restored to his own."]

Seeing a descendant of their ancient kings among them, confiding in their loyalty, and believing him unfortunate, accomplished, and brave, "Charles soon found himself at the head of some thousands of hardy mountaineers, filled with hereditary attachment to his family, and ardently devoted to his person, in consequence of his open and engaging manners, as well as having assumed the ancient military dress of their country, which added new grace to his tall and handsome figure, at the same time that it borrowed dignity from his princely air; and who, from all these motives, were ready to shed the last drop of their blood in his cause; and descending from the mountains with the rapidity of a torrent at the head of his intrepid Highlanders, he took possession of Dunkeld, Perth, &c. &c." [Letters of a Nobleman to his Son.]

So universal and ardent was this feeling, that had it not been for the wisdom and influence of the Lord President Forbes, [See Appendix, U.] a general rising of the Highlanders would probably have ensued. This will appear the more remarkable, if it be true, as is insinuated by that eminent person, that there was no previous plan of operations, or connected scheme of rebellion; although, had there really been a preconcerted scheme of any kind, it will be allowed, that the Lord President of the Court of Session was not the person to whom treasonable plots would have been disclosed, how intimate soever he might be with the persons concerned. The whole, however, would seem to have been a sudden ebullition of loyalty, long cherished in secret, and cherished the more intensely, for the very reason that it was secret and persecuted. The Lord President, in a letter to Sir Andrew Mitchell, dated September 1745, gives the following account of the spirit then displayed in the North: "All the Jacobites, how prudent soever, became mad, all doubtful people became Jacobites, and all bankrupts became heroes, and talked of nothing but hereditary right and victory. And what was more grievous to men of gallantry, and, if you believe me, more mischievous to the public, all the fine ladies, [Of all the fine ladies, few were more accomplished, more beautiful, or more enthusiastic, than the Lady Mackintosh, a daughter of Farquharson of Invercauld. Her husband, the Laird of Mackintosh, had this year been appointed to a company in the then 43d, now 42d, Highland regiment; and, restrained by a sense of duty, he kept back his people, who were urgent to be led' to the field. These restraints had no influence on his lady, who took the command of the clan, and joined the rebels, by whom her husband was taken prisoner,—when the Prince gave him in charge to his wife, saying, " that he could not be in better security, or more honourably treated." One morning when Lord Loudon lay at Inverness with the royal army, he received information that the Pretender was to sleep that night at Moy Hall, the seat of Mackintosh, with a guard of two hundred of Mackintosh's men. Expecting to put a speedy end to the rebellion by the capture of the person who was the prime mover of the whole, Lord Loudon assembled his troops, and marched to Moy Hall. The commandress, however, was not to be taken by surprise; and she bad no want of faithful scouts to give her full information of all movements or intended attacks. Without giving notice to her guest of his danger, she with great, and, as it happened, successful temerity, sallied out with her men, and took post on the high road, at a short distance from the house, placing small parties two and three hundred yards asunder. When Lord Loudon came within hearing, a command was passed from man to man, in a loud voice, along a distance of half a mile : The Mackintoshes, Macgillivrays, and Macbeans, to form instantly on the centre,—the Macdonalds on the right,— the Frasers on the left; and in this manner were arranged all the clans in order of battle, in full hearing of the Commander-in-chief of the royal army, who, believing the whole rebel force ready to oppose him, instantly faced to the right about, and retreated with great expedition to Inverness; but not thinking himself safe there, he continued his route across three arms of the sea to Sutherland, a distance of seventy miles, where he took up his quarters.

Such was the terror inspired by the Highlanders of that day, even in military men of experience like Lord Loudon. It was not till the following morning that Lady Mackintosh informed her guest of the risk he had run. One of the ladies noticed by the President, finding she could not prevail upon her husband to join the rebels, though his men were ready; and perceiving, one morning, that he intended to set off for Culloden with the offer of his services as a loyal subject, contrived, while making tea for breakfast, to pour, as if by accident, a quantity of scalding hot water on his knees and legs, and thus effectually put an end to all active movements on his part for that season, while she dispatched his men to join the rebels under a commander more obedient to her wishes.] if you except one or two, became passionately fond of the young Adventurer, and used all their arts and industry for him, in the most intemperate manner. Under these circumstances, I found myself almost alone, without troops, without arms, without money or credit, provided with no means to prevent extreme folly, except pen and ink, a tongue, and some reputation; and if you will except Macleod (the Laird of Macleod), whom I sent for from the Isle of Skye, supported by nobody of common sense or courage."

During the progress of this unfortunate rebellion, the moral character of the great mass of the Highlanders engaged in it was placed in a most favourable point of view. The noblemen and gentlemen too, who took a lead in the cause, were generally actuated by pure, although mistaken motives of loyalty and principle. Some of them might be stung by the remembrance of real or supposed injuries, by disappointed ambition, or excited by delusive hopes; yet the greatest proportion even of these staked their lives and fortunes in the contest, from a disinterested attachment to an unfortunate prince, for whose family their fathers had suffered, and whose pretensions they themselves were taught to consider as just. Into these principles and feelings, the mass of the clansmen entered with a warmth and zeal unmixed with, or unsullied by, motives of self-interest or aggrandizement; for whatever their superiors might expect, they could look for nothing but that satisfaction and self-approbation which accompany the consciousness of supporting the oppressed. They were therefore misguided, rather than criminal, and to their honour it ought to be remembered, that though engaged in a formidable civil war, which roused the strongest passions of human nature, and though unaccustomed to regular discipline, or military control, though they were in a manner let loose on their countrymen, and frequently flushed with victory, and elated with hopes of ultimate success, they committed comparatively very few acts of wanton plunder, or gratuitous violence. They withstood temptations, which, to men in their situation, might have appeared irresistible; and when they marched into the heart of England through fertile and rich districts, presenting numberless objects of desire, and also when in the northern parts of the kingdom, often pinched with hunger, and exposed throughout a whole winter to all the inclemencies of the weather, without tents, or any covering save what chance afforded; in these trying circumstances, acts of personal violence and robbery were unheard of, except among a few desperate followers, who joined more for the sake of booty, than from other and better motives. Private revenge, or unprovoked massacre, [See Appendix, V.] wanton depredation, the burning of private houses, or destruction of property, were entirely unknown. When the cravings of hunger, or the want of regular supplies in the north of Scotland, compelled them to go in quest of food, they limited their demands by their necessities, and indulged in no licentious excess. The requisitions and contributions exacted and levied by the rebel commanders, were the unavoidable consequences of their situation, and did not in any manner affect the character of the rebel army, which conducted itself throughout with a moderation, forbearance, and humanity, almost unexampled in any civil commotion. In a military point of view, they proved themselves equally praiseworthy. Neither in the advance into England, to within a hundred and fifty miles of London, nor in the retreat, when pursued by a superior army while another attempted to intercept them, did they leave a man behind by desertion, and few or none by sickness. They carried their cannon along with them, and the retreat "was conducted with a degree of intrepidity, regularity, expedition and address, unparalleled in the history of nations, by any body of men under circumstances equally adverse." [Letters from a Nobleman to his Son.]

When such were the character and conduct of the rebel army,—irreproachable in every respect, except in the act of rebellion,—it is to be lamented that their enlightened and disciplined conquerors did not condescend to take a lesson of moderation from these uncultivated savages, (as they called them;) and that they sullied their triumphs, by devastation and cruelty inflicted on a defenceless enemy. As to the burning of the castles of Lovat, Lochiel, Glengarry, Clunie, and others, some apology may be found in the expediency of punishing men, who, from the circle in which they moved, and their general intelligence and knowledge of the world, must have known the stake which they hazarded, and the consequences of a failure. Not so with their followers, who acted from a principle of fidelity and attachment, which had withstood the lapse of so many years of absence and exile, and which, by gentle treatment, might have been turned into the proper channel. Instead of this, a line of conduct was pursued infinitely more ferocious und barbarous, than the worst acts of the poor people, to whom these epithets were so liberally applied.

These cruelties compelled many of the followers of the rebel army, afraid of punishment, and unwilling to return to their homes, to form themselves into bands of freebooters, who frepuented the mountains of Athole, Breadalbane, and Monteith, districts which form the border country, and often laid the Lowlands under contributions; defying the exertions of their Lowland neighbours, assisted by small garrisons, stationed in different parts of the country, to check their depredations. The harsh measures afterwards pursued were more calculated to exasperate, then to allay the discontents which they were intended to remove, and were perhaps less excusable as being more deliberate.


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